Knoch, Peters Township doubles teams capture WPIAL gold

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Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 6:06 PM


When it came down to it on Thursday at the Oxford Athletic Complex, the Knoch doubles team of Ally Bauer and Libby Conlon did what they needed to do to come away with a WPIAL Class AA doubles championship.

In both of their sets against Greensburg Salem’s Kasey and Paige Storkel, Bauer and Conlon dropped the first game. But they were able to settle their nerves, take a deep breath, and bounce back for a victory.

“For us, it was like hey, new game, new play, we got this,” Conlon said. “We just needed to pull it together and we knew we were going to. We honestly both killed it.”

After the first loss in the first set, Bauer and Conlon only lost one other game and cruised to a 6-2 victory. In the second set, they had to hold off the Storkels down the stretch in order to come away with a 7-5 win.

“This feels great. It’s even better to do it with one of my best friends and someone I’ve known for so long,” Bauer said. “I’m so happy and it’s so exciting.”

Their friendship shined on the court prior to getting WPIAL medals placed around their necks. Throughout the match, Conlon and Bauer converted long rallies, attacked the opposing net player and executed their gameplan to perfection.

Throughout the season, Bauer has played third singles for the Knights and Conlon has played first doubles, so when they decided to come together to compete for a WPIAL title, there was a little bit of an adjustment period. Because of their history, Conlon said it didn’t take long for them to overcome it.

“We’ve played together in practice and at clinics, but I think something that really helped us was the fact that we have played against each other so much,” Conlon said. “So I knew her game and she knew my game really well. So I think that put us at an advantage because not many people have to play against each other, then play together.”

Just two weeks ago, their teammates, Laura Greb and Ally’s older sister Brooke, dueled for the Class AA singles title. Heading into her championship match, Ally got a little bit of advice from her older sister.

“She just told me to stay in it, attack when I can and just stay patient,” Ally said.

Adding to the family legacy

In the Class AAA championship match, the Peters Township pairing of Kat Wang and Marra Bruce faced an early 2-1 deficit in the first set, but after boucing back to take a 3-2 lead, never trailed again.

“When we went to the bench after going down, we just started talking about why it was happening,” Wang said. “We just thought it was the nerves. So once we got that out of our system, we were fine and we just played.”

From there, the pair cruised to a WPIAL title, earning a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Latrobe’s Jenna Bell and Carolina Walters.

Not only did Wang and Bruce add another WPIAL title to the Peters Township trophy case, but Bruce added another one to her family’s. Her older brothers Connor and Hunter have captured WPIAL and PIAA gold in the past.

Hunter captured an individual WPIAL golf title in 2015 as a sophomore when he shot a 1-over, 73 at Southpointe Golf Club. Connor won a WPIAL singles title in 2017 and just captured a PIAA doubles championship this past spring, which drove Marra to accomplish the same.

“I told myself I needed to get one too,” Marra, a freshman, said. “I did it. It feels surreal and amazing to do it already.”

In the consolation matches, Elle Santora and Renee Long from Shady Side Academy defeated Fox Chapel’s Carissa Shepard and Catherine Petrovich, 6-4, 6-3, to capture third place in the AAA bracket. In the AA tournament, Sewickley Academy’s Aleena Purewal and Milla Ivanova did the same as they defeated Beaver’s Anna Blum and Olivia Rabak, 6-4, 6-4, in order to advance to the PIAA state tournament during the first weekend in November.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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